Seven Strategies for Identifying Who Is Willing and Able to Pay for Household Water Services

Guest post by Urooj Amjad Urooj Amjad is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Economics Department of Queens College, City University of New York where she teaches Environmental Economics. She was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at The Water Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received her Ph.D. from the University of London.  Accurately identifying vulnerable groups and …

I’ve Got the Rate Case Blues: How to Maintain Financial Health While Mounting Fewer Rate Cases

Written by: Evan Kirk Evan Kirk graduated from The University of North Carolina at UNC Chapel Hill in May 2016 with a degree in Environmental Science, concentrating in energy and sustainability. For water and sewer utilities regulated by a state’s public utilities commission (PUC), mounting a rate case can be an expensive proposition. In fact, for some particularly small utilities, …

Fun Facts about Water System Rate Structures

Written by: Daniel Irvin Daniel Irvin is the Environmental Finance Community Advisor at the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The Environmental Finance Center currently produces statewide water and wastewater rates dashboards for 12 states across the US. We collect a lot of data on water system finance and management to build these dashboards, and those …

Three States With Laws Allowing Water Utility Customer Assistance Programs

Written by: Michael Burgess Michael Burgess is a law student in the class of 2018 at the Emory University School of Law. He currently serves as a legal intern for the UNC Environmental Finance Center. Unlike your favorite TV show, college football, or even your cell phone, water is a truly vital part of life. However, many Americans may still …

Three Strategies to Reduce Costs: Purchasing Partnerships for Water Systems

Written by: Lauren Joca Lauren Joca is a student intern at the UNC Environmental Finance Center pursing a Master’s degree in the School of Public Health and the Department of City and Regional Planning.  Drinking water and wastewater systems may be able to reduce costs bypartnering with other systems. These partnerships can range from informal agreements to the transfer of …

Three State Programs that Assist Local Capital Planning & Statewide Infrastructure Needs Assessment

Written by: Trey Talley Trey Talley is a Research Assistant at the UNC Environmental Finance Center pursuing a Master’s of City and Regional Planning. The EPA’s 2011 Report to Congress on the Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment, which estimated infrastructure capital needs of $384.2 billion over the next 20 years, includes a short line that has stuck with …

The Revenue Ups and Downs of the Water Business

Written by: Rachel Baum Rachel Baum is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina studying environmental financial risk management. The Upside: The water business sells one of the most important, if not the most important, products on earth. It is a product that can be used for thousands of purposes and one that has limited competitive pressures compared to other …

Smart Management for Small Water Systems Program Newsletter | Spring 2015

The Environmental Finance Center Network has published the third issue in a series of bi-monthly newsletters. The Spring 2015 Program Newsletter highlights upcoming workshops and webinars, highlights the story of one small water system who worked with the EFCN, and shares helpful new resources for small water systems.

Key Financial Indicators for Water and Wastewater Systems: Operating Ratio

Key financial indicators are a way for a system to get a snapshot of its financial health and to determine whether it needs to make adjustments to its rates, and they should be calculated annually when financial statements are released. One important financial indicator is operating ratio, which measures the ratio of annual operating revenues to annual operating expenses. To be a true enterprise fund that is self-supporting, a system should strive to have at least as much operating revenue as it has operating expenses, if not more. Otherwise, the system would be operating at a loss.

New Tool Helps Utilities Assess the Affordability of Water and Wastewater Service

When the five small water systems in Hampton County, South Carolina decided to band together to create the Lowcountry Regional Water System (LRWS), they, like many other small water systems across the country, faced a number of managerial and financial obstacles. Among these challenges were a flat growth rate, degraded and inadequate infrastructure, artificially low rates, and an economically disadvantaged population. Each of the five communities in this rural county had not only a different rate level, but also a different rate structure, with monthly rates for 5,000 gallons of water and sewer service ranging from as low as $36.50 to as high as $62.67. Whether the rates of the new, regionalized water system were “affordable” for all customers became a top concern for the LRWS.